Fun facts about renting a car and driving in the Balkans

Some things I learned for driving in the Balkans:

1) You don’t need an international driver’s license to rent a car

2) Websites are terribly outdated

3) There are no consolidated online resources for people who want to rent cars and drive places

4) The Balkans are harder to navigate and research online than Guatemala

5) I really need to learn how to drive a stickshift car again…. Mom.


It’s 9:30 p.m. in Chicago and I find myself somewhat balking at the fact that I while I have a ticket (upgraded!) in hand, I have not a place to stay nor a better idea of what I’m going to do in the Balkans than I did two weeks ago when I decided to book the $130 R/T ticket from Istanbul to Belgrade for Monday the 18th.

Nor did I have a better idea than when I booked the original flight to Turkey back in November thinking surely, with all of Turkish Airlines’ new routes across EMEA, I could get anywhere, even South Africa or India for Istanbul if I wanted. But the prices did not agree with my mentality, and soon I was left to consider Egypt or the Balkans to jump to from Istanbul.

To be frank, although I don’t scare so easily, the security in Egypt seems fragile at best (outside of the exaggerations of western media), so the Balkans took the cake.

The reports vary, some of which dictate that the roads are dangerous due to aggressive drivers and poor conditions. Others speak of windy roads covered in snow. Then there’s the occasional story of not taking a back road because there may be a landmine…unexploded yet.

I’m torn between just renting a car now (one week, automatic transmission, about $300), or taking a chance on the buses between countries. After all, a 7-hour trip between Belgrade and Sarajevo isn’t exactly a walk through the park. It is a long drive. Even driving from Puerto Natales out to El Chalten was …. and just looked it up… 432 km, 6 hours 14 minutes, without me speeding at twice the speed limit.

I guess perhaps 7 would not be so bad. At least I’ve learned today that Serbia is  not a country where you need an IDP to drive. International Drivers Licenses seem like a AAA rip-off…

Found a great website for checking bus travel schedules

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